What makes John “Liver-Eatin’” Johnson unique among Mountain Men is his long feud with the Crow Indians, which resulted in as many as 300 dead Crow warriors. The Crows challenged this tough, lucky Mountain Man, and, eventually, they ended their feud.
Johnson also reportedly ate Indian livers. We don’t see any aspect of this part of his life in 1972’s Jeremiah Johnson; director Sydney Pollack and actor Robert Redford were not inclined to see Johnson feasting on fresh Crows, although scriptwriter John Milius liked the idea. Frankly, Johnson as a cannibal would have been a mood killer in the context of this beautiful, quiet and, despite the action sequences, tranquil movie. In fact, considering how turbulent the early 1970s was, Jeremiah Johnson was a step toward the ecological sensibility that drove Redford to Utah, where the film was made, and where Redford ultimately founded the Sundance Film Festival. If you liked Dances With Wolves, you’ll likely enjoy this movie, as both are about men isolated in the West and living amongst the Indians.
The Blu-ray of Jeremiah Johnson is a bit skimpy on extras, but it does have a terrific commentary featuring the late director Pollack, Redford and Milius. Plus, the picture quality is fantastic; in a movie as pretty as this one is, picture quality counts for a lot.